Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ON MUSIC ~ Molly's First Dead Show...

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Welcome to the Live Archive, where Andy (aka Concert Boy) regales you with a recap of one of his many concert experiences through the years. Feel free to review his overall list and make a request for a future Live Archive post.

THE ACT: The Grateful Dead

THE SCENE: The original Boston Garden - Boston, MA (09/25/1991)

The Grateful Dead’s 1991 fall tour brought them back to the Boston Garden for the first time since 1982.  Boston had the final 6 shows of the tour after 3 in Richfield, OH and 9 at Madison Square Garden. The shows were Friday 9/20 through Sunday 9/22 and Tuesday 9/24 through Thursday 9/26. This run of shows is generally considered as one of the best in their later years.

THE GANG: Me & Molly

THE OCCASSION: To introduce Molly to her first live Grateful Dead show experience.

The Dead had established a unique mail ordering ticketing system for their fans and while I had seen them in concert before, this was the first show I mail ordered for tickets. Since I was still in college I could only afford a pair of tickets for one show. My tickets arrived sometime in August about a month before the shows. I was living in Boston at the time and there was much anticipation leading up to the shows as many friends were going and people were coming in from out of town. The town was buzzing when the Dead pulled into town and it was a lively scene around Casuseway Street and the old Boston Garden the entire week.

While I ordered tickets only for the one show, I actually ended up with a ticket for one of the previous shows on the 22nd. However, the reason I chose to review the show on the 25th is because it’s the first concert I took Molly to – it wasn’t really a date, though – we weren’t dating at the time and I happened to have an extra ticket and she had never seen the Dead.

The Grateful Dead is an improvisational band but their concerts have a certain structure and most songs are either first set songs or second set songs. This has been the format of their live shows since the late 70s. The first set is generally more song based and the second set is where they will get out there and the songs usually flow together into their drums & space segment of the set and then usually 3 or 4 songs out of space to close out the show. Usually only a one song encore and it’s considered a real treat to get a two song encore, usually including “And We Bid You Goodnight” as the second encore. The Dead’s repertoire includes hundreds of original and cover songs, some that they only play one or two times a year. They play a completely different set every night and don’t write setlists before shows (except after Brent Mydland died after the 1990 summer tour and new keyboardist Vince Welnick was brought on board – they wrote setlists for the 1990 fall tour).

SET 1:
Help on the Way> Slipknot> Franklin's Tower
Walking Blues
It Must Have Been the Roses> Dire Wolf
Queen Jane Approximately
Tennessee Jed> Music Never Stopped

An excellent opener of Help on the Way into the instrumental Slipknot and then Franklin’s Tower. These 3 songs are usually always grouped together and are sung by Jerry Garcia. Garcia and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir usually rotate songs, with the occasional song sung by bassist Phil Lesh. It’s a great way to open a show. We were on the left side of the Garden in the loge section underneath the balcony and it was bouncing up and down above us during Franklin’s – “Roll away…The Dew” Jerry Garcia sang and we were off. Next up was Weir’s take on Robert Johnson’s "Walking Blues." Jerry’s ballad “It Must Have been the Roses” led into “Dire Wolf”, a crowd favorite – Don’t Murder Me, I beg of You. The obligatory Bob Dylan 1st set cover was “Queen Jane Approximately”. One of my favorite Dylan songs and Bob Weir leads the band through a solid version. I really enjoy Jerry’s guitar playing on this one. Jerry’s “Tennessee Jed” – Drink all Day, Gonna Rock all Night – into Bob’s “Music Never Stopped” has the crowd worked up into a frenzy to end the set.

SET 2:
Victim or the Crime> Crazy Fingers> Playing In the Band> Terrapin Station>Drumz> That Would Be Something> Playing in the Band> China Doll> Throwing Stones> Not Fade Away

Mighty Quinn

This music isn’t for everybody. 9 songs around 90 minutes straight through with the exploratory Drums/Space segment in the middle. If you are a fan of top 40 music or music w/boundaries this probably isn’t your cup of tea. They opened with Bob’s "Victim or the Crime," not one of my favorites. This is a newer song and it is sometimes paired with another new one, "Foolish Heart." However, tonight they go into Jerry’s classic “Crazy Fingers”. That leads into “Playing in the Band” and “Terrapin Station”. All these songs segue into each other and then everyone leaves the stage except the 2 drummers, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. After 15 to 20 minutes or so they leave the stage and the guitarists come back for the exploratory Space. The other musicians come back onto the stage and they go into a song they are playing for the first time ever – Paul McCartney’s “That Would be Something” off of Paul’s first solo album. That leads back into “Playing in the Band”, Jerry’s delicate “China Doll” and the closing rockers “Throwing Stones” and Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. The encore of Dylan’s “The Mighty Quinn” brings the house down.

  • Official Website =

  • Live Music Archive Downloads & Streaming =

  • Dick’s Picks #17 – official live release in the Dick’s Picks series of live shows as selected by archivist Dick Latvala =

  • Live Download Sites = &

  • Setlists & Other Info. =

  • Resources =

  • What Molly remembers is the shaking balconies above scaring the crap out of her, feeling the awesome Drums segment rockin' away in her chest, and that Andy was so proud to introduce her to the really cool scene that was a Dead Show.  She had a ton of fun with a general recollection of the evening.  She keeps Concert Boy around when she needs to know all the details of their musical adventures.

    PICKS (out of 5):


    Sandy Nawrot said...

    Never seen a Dead show, although I do love their music. It defined college I think. Yay for Concert Girl!

    Ruth said...

    Never saw one of theirs either. But I hope you can see Cartier-Bresson at the MoMA!

    Kathleen said...

    Well I am extremely jealous. I never had the pleasure to see the Dead in person. My boyfriend saw hundreds of their shows back in the day. I've seen Bob Weir and Ratdog and am going to see Dark Star Orchestra at the Fillmore in SF this Saturday and I've seen Phish but I know that nothing can compare to the Dead and Jerry!